Hannah is home from college for Christmas break.  Someone asked me yesterday if Coleman had missed her and if he was excited to have her home.  My answer was that, since Coleman does not talk, it is often difficult to gauge exactly what he is thinking and feeling.  That was my answer yesterday.  My answer today is different. 

As I was getting ready to head to the office early this morning, I saw that Coleman was snuggled up close to Hannah in the king-size bed in the master bedroom.  Yes, Hannah and Coleman slept with Kim in our room last night, and, no, that is not unusual at our house when Hannah is home.  I bailed out for more private quarters.  I need my space!  As I was about to leave this morning, I noticed that Coleman was awake.  Hannah was not.  God has blessed that girl with a coma-like ability to sleep, as evidenced by the fact that Coleman’s actions did not rouse her in the least.  I stood and watched him for several minutes.  He would flick the ends of her fingers, then hold her hand briefly, interlocking his fingers with hers.  Then, he would let go and start the process over.  Flick.  Hold.  Flick.  Hold.  Once, he broke the sequence by patting her on the head a couple of times, then just looked at her for a moment.  You know what they say.  “Actions speak louder than words.”  Coleman was saying, “Yes, I’ve missed you.  Yes, I’m glad you’re home.” 

Missing people is a part of life.  It means that we love and care about others.  It means that we feel a sense of loss when they are not with us.  It means that, since they are a part of our lives, we ourselves are somewhat diminished when they are not there.  

Christmas is a time of “togetherness” and an occasion for great gatherings of family and friends.  Yet, despite the joy, festivity, and feasting, it is quite natural to miss those who are not present.  It would be strange if we didn’t.

This week, many people will experience their first Christmas without a significant family member or friend.  Our friend Shelly Thomas lost her grandmother a little over a week ago.  As I am typing this blog post, our friend Bobby Ross and his family are driving to Tennessee for his grandmother’s funeral.  This Christmas will be different for those families.  Still joyful?  Absolutely.  A tinge of sadness?  To be expected.  I lost my first grandparent, Josh Pyles, on Christmas Day, 1984.  I think about him every Christmas.  Last Christmas was my first one without a grandparent.  Granny passed away last November at the age of 101.  I really missed seeing her, as I will this year. 

There is an old hymn that begins, “Beyond this land of parting, losing, and leaving….”  What an eternal blessing!  No separation.  No death.  No goodbyes.  No missing. 

Kim and I have been blessed to live in several places since we married, and we have established treasured friendships everywhere we have been: Tennessee, Hawaii, Alabama, Texas, and now Oklahoma.  To our friends whom we have not seen in a while, whether it has been a few weeks, a few months, or a few years, please know that we miss you.  Missing you is a good thing.  It means we love you.